Let’s all screw the 1 percent: The simple move Obama could make to strengthen the rest of us – PAUL ROSENBERG FRIDAY, DEC 26, 2014 12:00 PM UTC

You’re working more hours and not getting paid for them. We can fix that — and put more people to work. Here’s how

Let's all screw the 1 percent: The simple move Obama could make to strengthen the rest of us

“The economy” in the abstract is doing relatively well, with strong job growth, a booming stock market, and rising GDP. But the American people aren’t feeling it—and Democrats have paid a serious political price as a result—simply because the concrete, individual experience is quite different.  Raising the minimum wage is one way to get at the problem—but for a problem that big, it’s a limited line of attack. There are millions of Americans making well more than the minimum wage, yet still doing much worse than their similarly situated parents did a generation ago.

“So what’s changed since the 1960s and ’70s?” progressive billionare venture capitalist Nick Hanauer asked in Politico back in November. “Overtime pay, in part,” he answered: “Your parents got a lot of it, and you don’t. And it turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class.”

Although the details are a bit complicated, the bottom line is not: there’s a wage level below which everyone qualifies for mandatory time-and-a-half overtime, even if they’re on a salary, and that level has only been raised once since 1975, with the result that only 11 percent of salaried Americans are covered today, compared to over 65 percent of them in 1975.  If you make less than $23,660 a year as a salaried worker, you qualify for mandatory overtime—if not, you’re out of luck.  Only those hanging on to the lowest levels of the middle class have those protections anymore. Just adjusting the wage level for inflation since 1975—an act of restoration, not revolution—would be as significant an income increase for millions of middle-class Americans as a $10.10 or even $15 minimum wage is for low-wage workers.  It would cover an additional 6.1 million salaried workers (by one account) up to $970 per week, about $50,440 annually—the vast majority of those it was originally designed to protect, but who have slowly lost their protections since the 1970s. Hanauer proposes a slightly greater increase, intended to cover roughly all the workforce that was covered in 1975. That would raise the threshold to $69,000 annually, and would cover an added 10.4 million workers.

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The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats – | By David Freeman Posted: 06/25/2014 2:59 pm EDT Updated: 06/26/2014 3:59 pm EDT

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.


The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.

Rich People Do Not Create Jobs – Wall Street Vulture Henry Blodget Has Epiphany AUTHOR: EGBERTO WILLIES DECEMBER 2, 2013 2:50 PM

Rich People Do Not Create Jobs - Wall Street Vulture Henry Blodget Has Epiphany

It’s always a hopeful sign when one of the greedy pigs that ruined the economy realizes their philosophy is sick. Henry Blodget is the latest to see the light.

Henry Blodget spent a lot of time pumping up the value of stocks even as he privately expressed negative views of the companies the stocks represented. For this he was permanently barred from the securities industry. Henry Blodget created no product. Henry Blodget created no service. He got rich making money like many in the wealthy class: He made money moving money. He contributing nothing of much value to society.

His ilk, along with the politicians they fund, have maintained laws that privileges the acquisition of wealth via money manipulation. Those that work for a living pay up to 39%+ in taxes while Henry Blodget’s class pay less than half that. They defended that by claiming that somehow their wealth trickles down and is better for the economy. Of course the experience of the last 30 years of this thinking has all but decimated the middle class. It turns out, the wealthy are not the job creators at all. Their wealth does not trickle down. Wealthy entrepreneur Nick Hanauer realized this and did a wonderful TED talk on it that everyone must listen to. A few years ago I wrote the book As I See It: Class Warfare The Only Resort to Right Wing Doom. In that book I wrote,

The reality is that our capitalist system is designed in such a manner that wealth will progressively be transferred upward. There are no real mechanisms to ensure that equitable distribution is maintained consummate to actual work or productivity. As such societal gain from marginally taxing those who benefited the most from this country providing the platform for said wealth creation, should be seen as a responsibility to maintain a viable society.

Blodget sees the light. Better late than never?

It was a pleasant surprise, then, to read yesterday’s piece by Blodget. It is titled Sorry, Folks, Rich People Actually Don’t ‘Create The Jobs’. In it, Blodget wrote,

But, more importantly, this argument perpetuates a myth that some well-off Americans use to justify today’s record inequality — the idea that rich people create the jobs. Entrepreneurs and investors like me actually don’t create the jobs — not sustainable ones, anyway. Yes, we can create jobs temporarily, by starting companies and funding losses for a while. And, yes, we are a necessary part of the economy’s job-creation engine. But to suggest that we alone are responsible for the jobs that sustain the other 300 million Americans is the height of self-importance and delusion.

The ending of Blodget’s article is one that the wealthy, as well as their purchased politicians, must heed.

Hanauer estimates that, if most American families were taking home the same share of the national income that they were taking home 30 years ago, every family would have another $10,000 of disposable income to spend. That, Hanauer points out, would have a huge impact on demand — and, thereby job creation. So, if nothing else, it’s time we stopped perpetuating the fiction that “rich people create the jobs.” Rich people don’t create the jobs. Our economy creates jobs. We’re all in this together. And until we understand that, our economy is going to go nowhere.

This is a call for higher wages for working Americans and higher taxes on the wealthy. Our economy did best for all during those times. The 30 year experiment with trickle-down economics has failed.